The Dark Side of Yoga

dark-yoga
Imagine a world with no night sky or stars to shine against it.  If we never looked up in awe of the magnificent space beyond us, we would never question our infinite power.  In yoga, how deeply we look into our shadow side determines the depth of our practice.

As children, we are conditioned to fear the dark. It is often associated with death, the unknown and eerie powers.  As a society we do things to cover up darkness, like avoid being in it and/or talk about it too much.  Before we realize it, darkness becomes a taboo topic, something to ignore, repress or prevent.  The truth is however, in darkness, we find precious gifts.

In yoga poses, the dark energy is often the place we avoid.  Some people do this by speeding through a pose, shortening the breath or looking any other direction besides within.  Inside our shadow are all emotions that we have been advised to hide such as anger, fear, anxiety, sadness, guilt and regret.  We may think if just ignore them, they will go away.  Yet, this creates unresolved, unbalanced energies within us.  Yoga practice offers us a sacred space to intimately feel the fullness of each of our emotions and honor them as they arise.  In this way, we gain a sense o connection within us and experience inner peace.

When we are in touch with emotions such as anger in ourselves, we can recognize that in someone else, see through their pain and express compassion.  If we ignore it in ourselves, we tend to judge the other person for their issues and separate them from us.   Just as we divide ourselves in society, inwardly, we can divide ourself, creating disconnection.  The mind and the heart become like a tug of war.  One is always pulling on us, and at times can seem to pull us apart.

In yoga poses, we remind ourselves to unify the heart and the mind.  In class, I say “inhale and breath your heart energy up into your mind.  Exhale and breathe your mind energy into your heart. Let the two become one. Feel yourself becoming centered. Notice how your energy is becoming expansive.” Let the seeds of light in your heart shine out into your whole being.

Of course, this may be much harder to practice off the yoga mat.  Take driving on the highway for example. I have watched myself turn into a wound up driver when someone cuts me off and nearly kills me and does not even notice.  The best I do in these times is simply watch my behavior.  To embrace the dark and accept it is just as valid as any other part of me. It is also a vital step in practicing holistic yoga.

Whenever you get a chance to express your emotions, see if you can really see yourself engaging emotionally while it is happening.  It is fascinating how fragile and yet phenomenal our minds are.  It makes me so incredibly grateful for yoga, a place where unconditional love and acceptance awaits. I wish for all of us to be truly vulnerable so that we an know our Highest Self.  I wish for us courage to explore the dark with intention to see into it and through it into its essence and discovery that all is one.

Infinite Love,
Kamlesh

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